Archaeologies of Heart: Exploring the Role of Emotion and Spirit in Archaeological Research and Practice

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 82nd Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC (2017)

Feminist and indigenous models of research and wellbeing invite us to fully utilize our emotional, social, intuitive, and spiritual selves, as well as our best intellectual and rational selves, in our research pursuits. In this session, we propose to explore ‘Archaeologies of Heart’, in research practices, pedagogies and outcomes. What propelled this session was our asking: If we all love archaeology so much, why don’t we talk more explicitly about our feelings? Why don’t we get our hearts involved in our work and research in more than an implicit manner? Our collective goal is to find and speak our unique and authentic voices about issues in our discipline that matter to us and to develop means by which we can begin to transform archaeology to incorporate our whole selves, from the individual to the community, classroom, and institutional levels. Drawing on the growing literatures on heart-centred practice, indigenous ontologies, and feminist perspectives, we invite our panelists to consider and reflect on questions and concerns: What are heart-centred practices? What do they look like and how would they translate into archaeology? What would be the outcomes of a heart-centred archaeology? How might it change the interpretations we make about the past?

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-13 of 13)

  • Documents (13)

  • Archaeologies of the Heart (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only E. Anderson. Chelsey Geralda Armstrong.

    This paper raises two questions: How do you investigate environmental ethics and emotions in the archaeological record, and how do we now use archaeological evidence to work with Indigenous and local people on heritage and conservation? We discuss the role of emotion in archaeology, with specific reference to cooperation between archaeologists and First Nations people in preserving heritage sites in British Columbia.

  • Archaeology as Meditative Practice (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Fanya Becks.

    In this paper I will illustrate how my research praxis necessarily altered as a product of close collaboration and consultation. The Muwekma Tribe of the San Francisco Bay Area (California, USA), is a community that has been eager to engage with respectful researchers in the analysis of their ancestors remains, once they have been disturbed. As a non-indigenous researcher collaborating with the tribal community, aspects of proper respect and care towards ancestors, and materials associated with...

  • At the Heart of the Ikaahuk Archaeology Project (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Lisa Hodgetts. Laura Kelvin.

    For several years, we have been working with Inuvialuit community members from Sachs Harbour in Canada’s Northwest Territories, developing a research partnership called the Ikaahuk Archaeology Project (IAP). Many Inuvialuit connect with the past through "doing"; engaging in a range of traditional and non-traditional activities. Through them, they come to know the past physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. While archaeologists primarily engage with the past intellectually,...

  • Closely Observed Layers: Small Stories and the Heart (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ruth Tringham.

    When I tell people I'm an archaeologist, their eyes light up with a wistful look and they say "I've always wanted to be an archaeologist". I could describe one reality, that it is not as glamorous as they think, work is slow and repetitive, and that leaves them disappointed. But usually I describe another reality: what I love about what I do - and they are delighted. However, I have never articulated it in a professional presentation or publication: I excavate layers of dead people’s residential...

  • Emotional Practice and Perspectives on Emotion in the Archaeology of Childhood (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jane Baxter.

    Childhood is a stage of life that engenders particularly empathetic and emotional responses from people, and those reactions affect how the topics of children and childhood are perceived, impact the individual(s) conducting research, and shape the ways we think about children as subjects. This paper is a wide ranging exploration of my experiences in the archaeological study of childhood, which includes both the role of emotion when interpreting childhood in the past and the emotional contexts of...

  • Field Walking and Walking the Field (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Margaret Conkey.

    While we have gradually accepted that archaeological survey is as integral to our research as the overly-valued practice of excavation, the emotional dimensions of survey where one connects with the landscapes and with its occupants are hardly discussed, especially in the case of long-term surveys. What does a heart-centered survey project look like? How does the intimacy that comes from field walking inform the archaeology? As well, we are all participants in the field of archaeology, and...

  • "I Could Feel Your Heart": The Transformative and Collaborative Power of Heartfelt Thinking in Archaeology (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Sarah Surface-Evans.

    As anthropologists we know that the heart is considered a source of strength in many cultures. Yet in Western society and the culture of science, an epistemology of the heart or heartfelt thinking is generally feminized and as a consequence, devalued. Guided by Feminist and Indigenous theory, I have established an archaeological practice that foregrounds heartfelt thinking as part of community-based heritage work. Importantly, I strive to train the next generation of archaeology...

  • Lithics and Learning: Towards a Heart-Centered Lithic Analysis (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Callum Abbott.

    Both archaeologists and the knappers who created the lithics we recover are skilled practitioners implicated in a genealogy of technological practice. These living, thinking, and feeling beings make tools with their hearts and their minds–two inseparable components of the complete corporeal experience. A heart-centered approach to lithic analysis offers insights about the social and emotional contexts of situated learning in which ancient and contemporary makers of stone tools engage. The...

  • Open eyes, open minds, open arms, and open hearts open archaeology (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only John Welch.

    Archaeologists share formidable qualities of mind and temperament: observational acuity, organizational skill, perseverance. These are necessary, of course, in the sifting through of vast arrays of questions to address, evidence to harness, methods to deploy, and interpretive lenses to employ. Such rigor-making attributes may not, however, be sufficient for effective practice at hazy contacts among material pasts and intangible presents, for negotiating meanings and values out of that haze, or...

  • Taking Archaeology to Heart: Reflections on Passions and Politics (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Stephen Silliman.

    Talking about "heart-centered archaeology" is not necessarily easy, but it is easily necessary. Those of us who work with descendant communities know the power of the personal in making those projects possible, desirable, and enjoyable. As analytical as we must be, we must also have open hearts to those who experience the past(s) in more palpable, less academic, more heart-centered ways already. These can be profoundly transformative and positive, as they require more emotional and personal...

  • "We ask only that you come to us with an open heart and an open mind": The transformative power of an archaeology of heart. (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Tanja Hoffmann.

    Indigenous scholars propose that the outside researchers most useful to indigenous communities are those willing to engage in a process of self-discovery and transformation. These researchers are willing to learn from, not just about, the people they work with. This paper contemplates the challenges and opportunities that arise when archaeologists embark on this transformative journey. I use personal examples drawn from two decades of conducting archaeology with and for indigenous communities to...

  • What makes us beat? Toward a heart-centered practice in archaeological research (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kisha Supernant. Natasha Lyons.

    Within the discipline of archaeology, we conventionally employ rational, science-based analyses to examine ancient cultures. Yet the lives of archaeological practitioners, contemporary descent communities, and the ancient peoples we study, are more than just minds and bodies. In this paper, we outline a framework for a heart-centered archaeological practice that draws from foundational literature on feminist, indigenous, and community-based archaeologies. We posit that a heart-centered...

  • Who Holds Your Light? Revealing relationships through a forensic approach to Upper Paleolithic cave art (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Leslie Van Gelder.

    The study of finger flutings, lines drawn with fingers in the soft surfaces of cave walls and ceilings, allows for the identification of unique individuals within a cave’s context. In early years of research we were able to identify men, women, and children in some of the 15 caves which have been studied. These led to discoveries as to which individuals which were often found together in their movement through the caves. The intimacy of cave spaces with artists working side by side, sometimes in...